Last year's first Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival featured celebrity chefs (Tom Colicchio, Fergus Henderson, Tim Love, Marcus Samuelsson, and Ming Tsai); wine experts like Anthony Giglio; travel and food media mavens like Travel + Leisure's Niloufar Motamed, Ed Kelly of the American Express Publishing Corporation, and Christina Grdovic, publisher of Food & Wine; and, of course, plenty of great Bajan food. The Daily Meal is back on the scene to talk to some great chefs, scope out things we may have missed last year, and most definitely to eat one of the best sandwiches anywhere, the cheese and blue marlin cutter at Cuz's Fish Stand.
This year's coverage kicks off with an interview with Barbados' Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, who discussed the 2010 festival and what can be expected this weekend and in years to come.
Jump into the Barbados festival Twitter game with @Barbados and
#FoodWineRum, or follow @Arthur_Bovino to find out where we're eating fish cakes with Scotch bonnet sauce, roti, and cutters. Check in here for updates on demos, chef sightings, notes, photos, and more.
3 p.m. OK! After a very early flight arrived at about 1 p.m., that familiar blast of hot Barabados air welcomes you at the door of the plane, immediately setting the stage for a cold rum punch — there go the jackets and scarves. Good AMEX folk on the plane, as well as Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson in first class. On to Colony Club, a luxury resort in Porters, St. James, Barbados. A beautiful beach, swimming-pool canals that connect the cabanas, a swim-up pool bar, and a rum punch waiting for you at check-in — now that's the life. But the festival starts in just a few hours, and there's no time to waste! First stop has to be the blue marlin cutter at Cuz's Fish Stand that became such an addiction at last year's inaugural Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival. It was even recently featured on The Today Show by Matt Lauer and Niloufar Motamed.
Cuz's fried egg and cheese sandwich.
4:30 p.m. Sometimes things just aren't meant to be. So it was with getting a blue marlin cutter today. St. James is on the west coast of Barbados, north of Bridgetown and Needham's Point, where Cuz's stand is on the beach near the Hilton. It's a little bit of a trek, but when you've craved something for a year, sometimes you can't see anything else save your objective (even though you start seeing new little places everywhere that would definitely be worth stopping for).
"Rush hour" in Barbados on Friday means you're not getting anywhere fast if you have to head through Bridgetown, where and when, the taxi driver noted, "Everyone is rushing around doing the last things they need to do before the weekend." Trucks are stalled, cars crawl, people cross the street every which way, and there's little movement on the roads. That meant pulling up to Cuz's Fish Stand to see a bunch of people eating blue marlin cutters, but only to be told that they were out of fish.
No blue marlin, no tomato, no pickle. And while it's just not the same, you can't make that kind of trip and leave with an empty belly. And the fried egg and cheese, while not as revelatory, certainly has key elements to get you ready for the local cuisine. New Zealand Cheddar, rolls with great ply, and, of course, Barbados' signature Scotch bonnet sauce. Mmm, tasty.
There's always the return trip to the airport for another attempt at Cuz's, and coming up empty-handed means even more incentive to ask about other places where you can get great local food. Stay tuned for those.
5:30 p.m. Tonight's kickoff is at the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, a new, 10-acre "mixed-use lifestyle centre" in Holetown that includes about 85,000 square feet of high-end retail space. Think you can expect rum?
9:30 p.m. The festival officially began in the open air, under tents on the roof of the Limegrove Lifestyle Center. Things started in high style, with rum punch cocktails waiting for attendees on the ground floor — something to sip on while waiting for the elevator, or to quench your thirst while climbing the stairs. Speaking of which, upstairs a DJ rocked some Caribbean beats; there were bites of ceviche, lamb kebab, and crab cakes; and the hosts declared the second annual Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival officially open for business. The Daily Meal caught up with chef Mark McEwan, chef and owner of several restaurants in Toronto, host of Food Network Canada's program The Heat with Mark McEwan, and more recently the host of Top Chef Canada. Stay tuned for the write-up.